European Neighbourhood South
The ETF’s operations for the Neighbourhood are divided into two regions that parallel the specific regional partnership initiatives of the southern Neighbourhood (UfM) and the eastern Neighbourhood (EaP). The ETF’s operations in the European Neighbourhood also mirror the regional and country focus of the Neighbourhood policy through mutually reinforcing national and regional actions.
European Neighbourhood South
The events of early 2011 in a number of partner countries in the southern Mediterranean demonstrate the importance of a more concerted effort by key stakeholders in addressing the key challenge of job creation. In response to recent events, countries have put or are putting in place key governance transformations to increase inclusiveness and accountability and strengthen public institutions. Multi-level governance, with a focus on regional development is increasing in priority as part of the challenge to develop cohesive and equal societies and to promote economic development.
With a third of the region’s population under 15 years of age, up to 60 million young people will join the workforce by the middle of the next decade. However, the labour force participation rate in the region is the lowest in the world: almost two-thirds of the working age population is unemployed, underemployed or inactive. Only one in four women is in the labour market. Between 30 and 50% of active people are employed in the labour market. Employability, and in particular youth employability is an agreed area of concern and of high priority for all countries in the region. Youth unemployment rates in the 15-24 cohort range from 17.6% in Morocco to 43.4% in Algeria. Migration is a complex phenomenon with some countries affected by the loss of qualified workers (especially higher education graduates emigrating to the Gulf region and developed countries), while other countries welcome unskilled immigrants.
Against these striking challenges, vocational education and training can play an important role in providing practical skills for millions of jobseekers as well as in supporting the active participation of individuals in society. In particular the Torino Process highlighted the following areas:
- Improving governance of the VET system is crucial, whether through more involved and more operational social partnership around VET policies or through increased school autonomy;
- Supporting social partners through capacity building in order to create better links and participation in policy making;
- Improving the architecture of education and training systems including costing and financing mechanisms to improve efficiency and transparency in VET systems;
- Developing qualifications systems through broad consultation to ensure social acceptance, especially with regard to improving pathways and the overall articulation between technical education and VET and between VET and higher education.
In this context and in line with the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity” and the EU orientations outlined in the May communication “A new response to a changing Neighbourhood”, the ETF aims to support efforts for employment creation (with a focus on skills development to support SMEs), employability at large (with a focus on youth unemployment, including the phenomenon of educated unemployment), equity, (in a broad sense including gender, social and regional cohesion), and multilevel governance of VET systems, including financing. Capacities for comprehensive institution building will also be enhanced.
In the context of political instability in the region, it is likely that priorities and activities will need to be adapted during the year.